Saturday, March 12, 2011

Donated food, fellowship and fun

Mark Lincourt and Henry Bounds, at North Adams Commons, help load the truck with donated food on Saturday, March 12.


Kudos — I love that word — to North Adams Commons, generous residents of the Northern Berkshires, and several local businesses for donating and collecting 540 pounds of food for the Friendship Center Food Pantry.

On Saturday, Maureen Gaudreau, of North Adams Commons, and her husband, helped several volunteers to load a truck with food for the pantry. Down at the pantry a short time later, several additional volunteers helped to sort through the food and get it ready to distribute.

On a personal note, I must say that while the last six weeks have been at times exhausting for me as we have gotten the pantry project up and running, working with such a wonderful group of volunteers — many of whom I did not know before our Interfaith group started — has made it all worthwhile.

The food pantry will next be open on Wednesday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our March Interfaith Action Initiative meeting will be held on Friday, March 18, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Adams (use Eagle Street entrance).

We will have a training on Basic Food Safety on Thursday, March 24, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Friendship Center at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams. Please RSVP to Mark at 664-0130 if you are interested. The workshop is presented by the Western Mass. Food Bank, which supplies most of the food for our pantry. This training is required by the Food Bank and we need at least 10 people to attend. I believe we more than have that amount of people who have said they will attend, but I will be checking this week because we need to have an exact count of attendees for the Food Bank by March 18.

Now that the food pantry has been up and running on three Wednesdays — having served, 27, 14, and 36 families — some things are becoming apparent. One is how many volunteers we need.

Optimally, when people are coming into the Friendship Center for food, we need two people in front to help people get and fill out forms and the menu (some of whom can’t read and need focused help), two people at the desk to sign people in, and four or five at the shelves and in back to fill the orders and bring them up front. This means 8 to 9 — and perhaps 10 — volunteers on a Wednesday. The upper number is preferable to let people go to lunch and do errands.

We receive our food deliveries on Wednesday mornings around 9 a.m., and for this to go well, we need at least four, and preferablly six, volunteers to bring the food in and start stocking it on the shelves. These are usually the same people who volunteer later, though some have come down just for this.

To handle the food drive donations we received on March 12, we had four people go up to the nursing home to load the truck. Back at the Friendship Center these four plus four more prepared our shelves and sorted the donated food, eight total.

This is volunteer-intensive work, and we now have a better idea of how many we need as we plan for the future. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Denise Krutiak, our volunteer coordinator, at

I will stop there for now. God Bless all of you and hope to see you on Friday.


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